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French National Championships - CN
Poiré-sur-Vie, France, June 22-25, 2000
The French National Championships are to be held in Poiré-sur-Vie from June 22-25. The races commence with the time trials, the Juniors and Women covering 22.5 kilometres in the morning (June 22), and the espoirs and elites riding 31.8 and 44.5 kilometres respectively in the afternoon. Following a day's rest, the road races for the Elite 2 and women will be held on Saturday, June 24 (157 and 100 kilometres each), while the professional men will do battle on Sunday, June 25 (243 km). The time trial and road courses have no major climbs, with the highest point being 71 metres, and the lowest 34 metres.
Out and out favourite for the women's events is veteran Jeannie Longo (Paris CO). The 42 year old has won a staggering 40 French titles and 12 World Titles, not to mention an Olympic Gold medal and 3 Tours de France. She is certainly in form at the moment, riding strongly in the recently completed HPLJ Women's Challenge in Idaho, USA. There she won three stages, including the time trial and excelled whenever the road went up. Lack of team was her downfall, but she still finished 4th overall.
Hot on her heels will be Cathy Marsal (Edilsavino) and Géraldine Loewenguth (AS La Steigeoise) who finished 2nd and 3rd last year. Loewenguth is riding strongly at the moment, but is unlikely to challenge Longo at her specialist event. Other favourites include diarist Marion Clignet and Juliette Vandekerkhove. The women's road race is an important one in terms of Olympic selection for the French women's team.
The men's time trial title will see Festina's Cristophe Moreau as the favourite, going against Laurent Brochard (Jean Delatour) and last year's winner, Gilles Maignan (Ag2r). Brochard's teammate, Francisque Teyssier may also be in with a chance, however it's likely that the top three will be very similar to last year.
In the road race, last year's champion, Francois Simon (Bonjour) will be watched carefully, but it's unlikely that he'll repeat the performance given the nature of the course. His teammate, Damien Nazon has a considerably better chance given his sprinting capabilities. Stéphane Heulot, Jimmy Casper and Emmanuel Magnien will be Francaise des Jeux' big hopes, although they have a good deal of depth in their team. Richard Virenque and Pascal Herve will be there for Polti, as will the Jalabert borthers for ONCE. Jean Delatour have other riders apart from Brochard, such as Patrice Halgand and will be fighting hard no matter which way their court case goes.
Big Mat Auber 93 have the Auger brothers (Guillaume and Ludovic), as well as Stéphane Berges to put their hopes in, although they suffered a lot during May with injuries. Finally, leading French division II team, Credit Agricole will feature Frédéric Finot, Sébastien Hinault and Fabrice Gougot in their line up. In total 122 riders will contest the road race, however it will not be as important to Olympic selection as the women's race is. The men's team will be anounced after the Tour.